When I get stuck in a meal-planning rut, I seek out ideas by asking my family what they’re craving and if they have any dinner requests. Lately BeanOne has been campaigning for one of his favorite meals, bee bim bop, a Korean dish with vegetables, beef, rice and a fried egg for each person.
Looks healthy! Right? I mean look at all those colorful vegetables! Two forms of protein! You can’t see it, but there is brown rice under there! While BeanTwo isn’t quite as enamored of this dinner as her brother, she still knows which parts she likes (not spinach, of course!) but a bit of everything goes down when it all gets mixed up. (Incidentally, this is another good dish for playing SET.)
Since we all love this dish, we were excited to find Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park (Clarion Books, 2005). The name, she explains, translates loosely to mix-mix rice. The components of bee-bim bop are prepared separately, and arranged in one’s bowl over a base of rice. When you’re ready to eat, you mix it all up: “Mix it – mix like crazy, time for BEE-BIM BOP!”
In Park’s book, we get caught up in a young girl’s excitement as her mother shops for and prepares the ingredients for bee-bim bop. The text canters along, always returning to an infectious chant:
Mama’s knife is shinySlicing fast and neatGarlic and green onionsSkinny strips of meat.
Hurry, Mama, hurryGotta chop, chop, chop.Hungry – very hungryfor some BEE-BIM BOP!
Park shares her own family recipe for bee-bim bop in the back of the book. She also encourages children to help in the prep, suggesting jobs kids can do for each part of the recipe. There are a lot of parts, and it may seem a bit daunting. If you’re a bee-bim bop virgin, just find a Korean restaurant and try it for lunch sometime. The vegetables may change; everyone seems to have a different version. But there is always a fried egg in some form. I like mine over-easy, and for my Beans, I usually scramble them. I typically see eggs sunny-side up on the bee-bim bop at Korean restaurants, which is how HandsomeBean prefers it. Park’s version calls for thin omelets sliced into strips. Most places will be happy to cook your egg to order, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Also, don’t forget the hot sauce. It’s usually on the mild side, so some people apply it liberally. BeanOne and BeanTwo are not fans of spicy foods, but they do like a drop or two of hot sauce on their bee-bim bop. I think it adds to the excitement, and that’s all part of the experience.